Naturally Flavoured Waters

Flavoured Waters

So with Canada Day behind us, and the hot long summer ahead (sorry GOT fans, winter is not yet coming!), it is important that we stay hydrated! So this week is all about the liquids! And what better way to kick it off than with good ol’ H2O? That reminds me of a bad nerd joke, that you’ll have to forgive me for telling, but I just can’t help myself.

Two scientists walk into a bar. The first one says “I’ll have some H2O.” The second one says, “I’ll have some H2O too.” The second scientist then dies.

All my fellow nerds will get it, for those that don’t, H2O2 (too) is the chemical formula for Hydrogen Peroxide which can kill you if ingested. Hey, I warned you it was a bad joke, don’t shoot the blogger.

So having warmed up the crowd, let’s move on to some great, easy waters, and some of the benefits that they will bring you. Please check out our produce cleaning page to see how to clean all of the fresh produce and herbs used in these recipes. You can check out the page by clicking here.


Apples and Cinnamon Water

Cinnamon helps lower blood sugar concentration and improves insulin sensitivity, while apples have been shown in studies to help a wide spectrum of ailments from staving off Alzheimer’s to protecting against colon cancer.

Ingredients:
2 apples, thinly sliced
4 cinnamon sticks
2 quarts water/seltzer, divided
ice
sliced apple and cinnamon sticks, for serving

Directions:
Place the thinly sliced apples and cinnamon sticks in a pitcher. For still infused water, add 2 quarts of water. For sparkling water, add 1 quart of seltzer during prep and a second quart just before serving. Refrigerate 2 to 4 hours to allow the ingredients to infuse. Stir well and strain, discarding the solids. For serving, add fresh apples and cinnamon sticks for garnish and plenty of ice. The infused water will keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.


Strawberries and Basil Water

This pretty medley of strawberries and basil from provides iron from the herb and vitamin C from the berries, which has been linked to fighting cancer, keeping wrinkles at bay, and more.

Ingredients:
1 pint strawberries, sliced
10 fresh basil leaves, torn
1 lemon, sliced
2 quarts water

Directions:
Combine strawberries, basil and lemon in a large pitcher. Add 2 quarts of water. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.


Blueberries, Peach, Lemon, and Mint Water

This supercharged mixture from combines the antioxidant power of the fruit with refreshing mint, a carotene-rich aromatic herb.

Ingredients:
1 large pitcher of water
10-12 chopped mint leaves
1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
2 sliced lemons
1 sliced peach or nectarine

Throw everything together in a pitcher and let it steep overnight. You can use fresh or frozen fruit – I always prefer fresh if it’s in season.


Orange & Vanilla Infused Water

This light delicious water provides both vitamin C and a boost of antioxidants.

Ingredients:
2 litres of filtered water
1 orange, sliced
½ teaspoon vanilla extract or a scraped vanilla bean

Directions:
Combine the orange slices, vanilla and water in a large pitcher, and mix well. Allow to infuse in the fridge for at least an hour, and then keep chilled in the fridge for a refreshing beverage anytime you like!


Blackberries and Sage Water

Blackberries are brimming with fibre and heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, while sage contains vitamin A and a variety of minerals like calcium and iron.

Ingredients:
5 sage leaves
1 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen)
ice
water

Directions:
Add sage leaves to a pitcher and bruise with a muddler. Add blackberries; press and twist with muddler to release their juices. Fill the jar with ice cubes, and then add water to the top, stir, cover and refrigerate.


Cucumber Slices and Lemongrass Water

Send yourself to the spa with this Thai inspired water. The lemongrass provides vitamins a and c, and the cucumber is a great diuretic!

Ingredients:
½ cucumber
1 stalk lemongrass
4 cups of water
ice

Directions:
Wash the cucumber. Using a vegetable peeler remove some of the waxy peel from the cucumber. Proceed to peel the cucumber into ribbons using the vegetable peeler. Put the ribbons into the pitcher.

Using your hands, peel away the rough outer edge of the lemongrass. Cut the lemongrass in half, lengthwise. Place the lemongrass onto a cutting board. Using a rolling pin, gently smash the lemongrass. Add to the pitcher of ice and cucumber ribbons. Fill with water. Give a stir. Let chill in the fridge at least an hour. Fill about ¼ of the pitcher with ice, stir, and enjoy.

Ginger Rhubarb Crisp

Ginger Rhubarb Crisp

So just in case you weren’t already sold on the whole rhubarb idea yet, did you know how good it was for you? Did you know it can just about do everything for you but your taxes? Here is just a short list of the great wonders that rhubarb has going for it, y’know, besides just tasting awesome!

  • Aids in weight loss – high in flavour, but low in calories, rhubarb is a great alternative with only 21 calories in 100 grams!
  • Stimulates bone growth and repair – the vitamin K promotes osteotrophic activity.
  • Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease  – that’s the vitamin K again, which prevents the oxidation of brain cells and stimulates cognitive activity.
  • Stimulates production of red blood cells – the trace amounts of copper and iron found in rhubarb are enough to stimulate the production of new cells.
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases – the impressive amount of antioxidants in rhubarb help ensure that free radicals don’t cause heart disease.
  • Prevents cancer and macular degeneration – beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are polyphenolics found in rhubarb which delay and ward off cancers and degeneration.
  • Stengthens digestive system and relives constipation – high in fibre, rhubarb has been traditionally used as a cure for constipation.

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
zest from 1 orange
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
8 cups chopped rhubarb (8 large stalks/16 small stalks)
½ cup flour
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup salted butter or margarine
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats

Directions:

Move an oven rack to the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and set it aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the white sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour, salt, eggs, orange zest, and ginger until well combined. Add the rhubarb, and mix to coat. Pour the rhubarb mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Thoroughly combine ½ cup flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon by pulsing in a food processor or blender. Stir in the oatmeal by hand, and then crumble the whole mixture over the rhubarb. Gently pat the topping down to make a crust.

Bake on the centre rack of the preheated oven until the topping is lightly golden, the rhubarb has fallen apart, and the juices are very thick and bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes. Check frequently after 30 minutes to see if bubbles are thick.

Macarpone Semifreddo with Pistachios and Biscotti

SemifreddoSemifreddo is Italian for half cold, or in other words, what we call a Canadian Spring! (Ba-dum-bah! Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week!) Okay, back to food… So, semifreddos are a class of semi-frozen desserts, typically things like ice-cream cakes, semi-frozen custards, or the frozen chocolate mousse cake that an old kosher Toronto restaurant used to serve. Usually, it is made by combining equal parts of ice cream (or gelato in Italian cuisine) and whipping cream. In today’s recipe, we’re doing things a bit differently, by combining mascarpone cheese, Greek yogourt and whipped egg whites. Your guests will be molto impressionato (very impressed) with this dessert! This dish will serve 8 to 10 people.

Ingredients:

1 orange*
¼ cup sugar
2 cups mascarpone cheese
1 cup plain Greek-style yogourt
1 ½ cups (375 mL) store-bought almond biscotti, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons honey, plus extra for garnish
¼ cup shelled unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 egg whites

* Click here for my tips on zesting citrus.

Directions:

Zest an orange with a peeler and cut into thin strips. Squeeze out the juice and put it aside for now. Place the zest in a saucepan, covering it with water and bring it to a boil. Drain the zest and then put back in the saucepan with ⅓ cup water and the sugar. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, as this will candy the zest. After the ten minutes, drain the zest and reserve the syrup.

In a large bowl, mix the mascarpone with the yogourt and the reserved orange juice. Add the candied orange zest, biscotti, honey and pistachios. Mix together to combine.

In another bowl, beat egg whites with the reserved syrup until soft peaks form. It will help if you use an electric mixer to do this, but it can be done by hand (with a little elbow grease). Incorporate the whipped egg white mixture into the mascarpone mixture. Pour into a 9 x 5-inch (23 x 13 cm) silicone loaf pan or a loaf pan lined with parchment paper (see note below).

Place in the freezer for at least 4 hours before unmoulding. Let the semifreddo stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This will help soften it before slicing to serve it “semi-frozen.” Serve slices of the semifreddo with a drizzle of honey if desired.

Note: If using a non-silicone loaf pan, you want to line it completely with parchment paper first, so that it can be removed easily once frozen.

Step 1: Grease your pan with a little butter or non-stick cooking spray, then trim your parchment paper to fit your pan (use the pan as a guide) leaving enough of a border to come up all four sides, leaving at least 1 inch of overhang. Cut in at all four corners, diagonally, toward the corners of your pan.
Step 2: Carefully fit your parchment into your pan — the cuts will allow the corner flaps to overlap and the paper to sit neatly inside.
Step 3: Trim the top, if necessary, so you don’t have too much of an overhang, and use a little butter or non-stick spray to stick down any paper that has come away from the tin.
Step 4: Ta-dah! You have a beautifully lined loaf pan!

Compiègne Cake

Compiègne cakeCompiègne Cake was created by Antonin Carême, in honour of the marriage of Napoleon and Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810. It wedding took place in the city of Compiègne, hence the name given to the cake. At her dinner, Queen Victoria served small sized versions of this cake, what we today would call cupcakes. I found a recipe from the era, which gives the base recipe for the dough, and then offered several variations, adding different candied fruits, etc. to the dough and as decoration. The recipe below uses fresh pineapple and candied fruit (though maraschino cherries would work just as well). This cake will serve 8-10 people. I hope you enjoy!

Compiegne CakeIngredients:

Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
3 small eggs
3 egg yolks
2 ½ teaspoons fresh yeast
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cream
⅔ cup softened butter

Syrup:
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup rum*
1 tablespoon of instant coffee (vanilla flavoured preferable)
1 orange, juiced, or ⅓ cup of juice
1 lemon, juiced, or 2-3 tablespoons of juice

Garnish:
1 pineapple
½ cup brown sugar
½ to 1 cup candied fruit or maraschino cherries

* Click here to see the list of kosher alcohols.

Directions:

Remove the butter from the refrigerator at least 2 hours before starting the cake. Cut into cubes and leave it at room temperature.

In a bowl (or food processor), combine the flour, sugar and yeast. Add the eggs, yolks and cream. Mix slowly until you have formed a smooth dough. Add the softened butter and mix being careful not to overmix the dough. It will be quite liquid and elastic.

Pour the batter into a Bundt pan or Kouglof mould if you have one, and let rise 1 hour in a warm place, such as next to the oven while it is roasting the pineapple. The dough will rise over this time.

To prepare the garnish, heat the oven to 350 degrees, and slice the pineapple into thin rounds, and then cut them in half to make a half moon shape. Lay the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and scatter the brown sugar on top. Roast the pineapple until it’s cooked through and slightly dried and caramelized.

After the hour of rising, bake the cake in the 350 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until when you knock on the cake it sounds slightly hollow.

Meanwhile, to make the syrup, mix the sugar and water together in a saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Remove it from the heat and add the juices of the orange and lemon, the coffee and the rum. Mix to combine.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it completely cool before unmoulding. This cake will be served crown shape up, so you may have to trim the base of the cake so that it will remain level on your serving platter.

Warm the syrup slightly and pour it over the cake. You might find it easier to pour a little syrup back in the cake pan, then put the cake back in the pan, and gently pour the remaining syrup over the cake. Let stand a few minutes to absorb the syrup, and then remove the cake from the pan again, and let it sit on a cooling rack to drain any excess syrup.

Place the cake on serving plate and make shallow slices around the cake in order to insert the roasted pineapple. Decorate with candied fruit alternating around the cake and piled up in the centre hole.

Note: To make this cake pareve or non-dairy, replace the butter with margarine and the cream with non-dairy creamer.

Orange, Tea, Bourbon-Brined Paprika Turkey

Turkey Breast

Brine a turkey breast for hours in a savoury, flavorful combination of spices, black tea, and bourbon. The breast is seasoned with a spiced margarine and roasted until golden brown and tender.

Ingredients:

1 (8 pound) whole turkey breast

Brine:
2 quarts water
5 oranges – juiced and zest cut off in large strips
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup white sugar
12 black tea bags
4 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
12 whole black peppercorns
1 cup bourbon whisky (or other strong alcohol of choice)
4 quarts cold water, or as needed

Seasoned Margarine:
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, crushed
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
6 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
6 tablespoons margarine, softened

Directions:

Pour 2 quarts of water into a very large soup pot and stir in orange juice and zest, kosher salt, sugar, black tea bags, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, and bourbon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix 4 quarts cold water into brine and let cool. Submerge turkey breast in brine, adding more water if needed to cover. Refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set oven rack to the lowest position in the oven. Remove turkey from marinade; discard marinade. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels.

Mix coriander seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, and garlic into softened butter in a bowl. Loosen the skin over turkey breast with your fingers and spread ¼ cup of the seasoned margarine beneath the skin. Rub remaining margarine over the turkey breast. Place turkey breast onto a roasting rack and set rack into a roasting pan.

Roast in the preheated oven until skin is golden brown and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165 degrees F, about 2 hours. Transfer to a cutting board and let turkey breast rest 30 minutes before slicing.

Banana Orange Cranberry Bread

Cranberry Orange Banana BreadThis is a good use of a few leftover items hanging around your kitchen: Cranberry sauce, bananas and an orange! In fact, when you start to see your bananas heading south, stick them in the freezer for when you wish to make banana bread at a later date, as you’re gonna need the dark overly-ripe ones for the recipe! The original recipe makes 2 – 9×5 inch loaves.

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup shortening
3 eggs
3 mashed bananas (very ripe)
1 orange, peeled and mashed
1 cup cranberry sauce
½ cup milk (you can use soy or water as well)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup chopped walnuts (or nut of choice)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, and mix in bananas, orange, cranberry sauce, milk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gradually blend flour mixture into the banana mixture. Fold in walnuts. Pour into the prepared loaf pans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, and cool completely.

Due Finali Dolci

TiramisuTiramisu

This dish, again seems to be a bit labour intensive, but again, worth it! The best advice I have for you is to make it at least a day in advance, if not two, so that the flavours have a chance to meld and develop. If not, you might find it somewhat bland and unbalanced. I also recommend serving it chilled.

Ingredients:

6 egg yolks
¾ cup white sugar
⅔ cup milk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound mascarpone cheese
½ cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature (espresso is even better)
4 tablespoons rum or alcohol of choice
2 (3 ounce) packages ladyfinger cookies
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, don’t stop, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow it to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour. Remove from the fridge and whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth, you may wish to use an electric beater for this if you have one, it will make the job easier and give you a silky texture. In a separate medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum. Take each lady finger and dip it into the coffee mixture. Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a 7×11 inch dish. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set, but preferably overnight or even a day or two.

BiscottiItalian Biscotti

This recipe is for a basic almond cookie, but the flavour options are endless. You can replace the extracts with ones of your choosing, such as anise, orange or lemon. You can add, remove or change the nuts used, or use chocolate chips or poppy seeds instead. Add citrus zest or dried cranberries! You are truly only limited by your imagination.

Original recipe makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

12 ounces butter/margarine
1 ¾ cups white sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 ounces chopped almonds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, and then add eggs one at a time, beating until fluffy. Stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and then incorporate them into the egg mixture along with the chopped almonds. Stir the dough with a spoon until it begins to come together. I find it easier, once the basic dough has formed, to then dump it out onto a clean floured surface and knead by hand at this point. Divide the dough into 4 parts. Roll each piece into a log about 15 inches long (or as long as your baking sheets are). Place logs onto cookie sheets, two to a sheet, the long way. Flatten the logs out until they are about 3 inches wide with a slight hump going down the middle. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove them from the oven. The loaves should be firm to the touch. Transfer the logs to a rack to cool slightly, and then using a serrated blade, cut the loaves into diagonal slices ½ inch wide. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Stand the slices upright on the baking sheet and bake for another 40 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Moroccan Mains: Chicken & Couscous

tumeric chicken

Moroccan Chicken

Serves 8
Ingredients:

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cubed
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon salt
olive oil
2 onions, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, diced
4 carrots, sliced ¼” rounds
4 stalks celery, sliced ¼” rounds
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained
2 zucchini, sliced ½” rounds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat adding a little olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and brown in the saucepan until almost cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in same pan. When tender, stir in ginger, paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and turmeric; stir fry for about 1 minute, then mix in broth and tomatoes. Return chicken to pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and zucchini to pan and bring to a simmer once again; cover pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until zucchini is cooked through and tender. Stir in lemon juice and serve over the rice, plain couscous or the delicious couscous recipe below.

CouscousMoroccan Couscous

Ingredients:

1 ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
2 zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into ¾” pieces
½ cup golden raisins (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
grated zest of one orange
1 540ml can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup orange juice
1 ½ cups couscous
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint*

Directions:

Place a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Stir in the cumin, ginger, cloves, cayenne, cardamom, coriander, and allspice; gently toast until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in oil and onion, cook until softened. Stir in the bell pepper, and zucchini; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins, salt, zest, and garbanzos. Pour in the chicken broth and orange juice; turn heat to high and bring to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, stir in the couscous and remove from heat; cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and fold in chopped mint.

*To learn how to inspect fresh mint, click here.